A Brief Chronology of Chaucer's Life and Times

1300          Dante's Divine Comedy.

1300          Birth of Guillaume de Machaut, French musician and poet (died 1377).

1304          Birth of Francis Petrarch (died 1374).

1313          Birth of Giovanni Boccaccio (died 1375).

1321          Death of Dante Alighieri (born 1265).

1330          Birth of John Gower (died 1408).

1335          Boccaccio's Il Filostrato (source of Troilus).

1336-38     Boccaccio's Il Filocolo (possible source of The Franklin's Tale).

1337          Hundred Years War begins (ends 1453).

1339          Boccaccio begins Il Teseida delle Nozze d'Emilia (source of The Knight's Tale).

1340-45    Birth of Chaucer.

1346          Birth of Eustache Deschamps, French poet (died c. 1406).

1346          English victory at Crecy; see Jean Froissart on the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).

1348-50    The Black Death; see the chilling description of the Plague in Boccaccio's Decameron, the introduction to the First Day.

1349-51    Boccaccio's Decameron written.

1356          English victory at Poitiers; see Jean Froissart, on the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).

1357          Chaucer is a page in the household of the Countess of Ulster.

1359-60    Chaucer serves in the war in France.

1360          Chaucer, captured by the French, is ransomed (for 16 pounds).

1360          Peace with France, Treaty of Bretigny (lull in Hundred Years War; resumes in 1369).

1361-62     Severe recurrence of the Plague.

1360s        Langland's Piers Plowman (The "A text").

1361-67     Jean Froissart, French poet and chronicler (c. 1337-1404) serves in the household of Queen Philippa.

1366         Chaucer marries Philippa Roet, a lady-in-waiting in the Queen's household.

1366         Chaucer travels to Spain.

1366         Death of John Chaucer, Chaucer's father.

1367         Birth of Chaucer's son, Thomas.

1367         Chaucer serves as a valettus and later as a squire in the court of Edward III; granted a payment of 20 marks per annum for life.

1368          Chaucer travels to the continent (France probably) on "the King's service."

1368          Birth of Thomas Hoccleve (died 1450), who wrote poems as a "disciple" of Chaucer.

1368-72    Chaucer writes "Fragment A" of the Romaunt of the Rose, The Book of the Duchess, probably a good many lyrics in French and English, now lost, and such lyrics as The Complaint unto Pity and The Complaint to His Lady.

1369          Chaucer serves with John of Gaunt's army in France.

1370          Birth of John Lydgate, admirer and imitator of Chaucer (died 1450).

1370          Chaucer again serves with the army in France.

1372          Chaucer's wife Philippa in the household of John of Gaunt's wife.

1372          Chaucer travels to Italy (Genoa and Florence) on a diplomatic mission.

1374          Death of Petrarch.

1374          Chaucer is granted a gallon pitcher of wine daily for life.

1374          Chaucer is appointed controller of the customs; granted a lease on a dwelling over Aldgate.

1375          Death of Boccaccio.

1375          Chaucer and Otho de Graunson (French knight and poet on whose poems Chaucer drew for his "Complaint of Venus") both receive grants from John of Gaunt.

1376-77     Several trips to France, negotiating for peace and the marriage of Richard.

1377          Edward III died; Richard II becomes king.

1377          Pope Gregory XI condemns doctrines of John Wycliffe (1335/38-1384); Lollard movement grows.

1378          The "Great Schism" -- rival Popes in Rome (Urban) and Avignon (Clement); see Deliberations of the University of Paris. The schism ends 1409.

1378          Chaucer travels to Italy (Milan) on diplomatic mission.

1378          John Gower and Richard Forester have Chaucer's power of attorney while he travels abroad.

late 1370s Chaucer writes Saint Cecelia (possibly later); The House of Fame, Anelida and Arcite.

1380          Cecily Chaumpaigne signs a document, releasing Chaucer from all actions "in the case of my rape" (de raptu meo).

1380          Birth of Chaucer's second son, Lewis.

1380          Chaucer writes The Parliament of Fowls.

1381          The Peasants' Revolt; see the accounts in Gray's Scalacronica and the Anonimalle Chronicle.

1381          Death of Chaucer's mother, Agnes Chaucer.

1382-86    Chaucer writes Boece and Troilus and Criseyede.

1382          Chaucer's controllorship of the customs is renewed, with permission to have a deputy.

1382          The Bible is translated into English (The "Wyclifite Bible"; a later versions is made in 1388).

1385           Chaucer is granted a permanent deputy in the customs.

1385           Eustache Deschamps sends Chaucer a poem of praise, hailing him as "great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer." See Chaucer's Reputation.

1385-87     Chaucer writes "Palamoun and Arcite" (later used as The Knight's Tale); The Legend of Good Women (though some parts are probably earlier and the prologue was later revised).

1385-89     Chaucer serves as justice of peace for Kent.

1386          Chaucer gives up the house in Aldgate; resigns from customs.

1386          Chaucer serves as member of Parliament for Kent (where he now probably lives).

1386/87    (Perhaps earlier) Chaucer is praised as a poet of Love and Philosophy by Thomas Usk, a younger contemporary (1350-88), author of The Testament of Love.

1387-90    John Gower's Confessio amantis (first "published" 1390; later revised).

1387-92    Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales.

1388         Some of King Richard II's closest supporters removed by the Lords Appellant; some (including Thomas Usk, an admirer and imitator of Chaucer) are executed.

1389          Chaucer is appointed clerk of the works at Westminster, Tower of London, and other royal estates.

1390          As clerk of the works, Chaucer has scaffolds built for jousts in Smithfield.

1390          Chaucer is robbed of horse, goods, 20 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence at Hacham, Surrey (perhaps robbed again a bit later).

1391-92    Chaucer writes Treatise of the Astrolabe (with additions 1393 and later).

1392-95    Chaucer writes most of The Canterbury Tales, including probably "The Marriage Group."

1394          King Richard II grants Chaucer an annuity of 20 pounds a year.

c. 1396      Chaucer writes "The Envoy to Bukton," in which the addressee is urged to read "The Wife of Bath."

1396-1400 Chaucer writes the latest of the Tales, including probably The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Canon's Yeoman's Tale (though part is probably earlier), the Parson's Tale, and several short poems, including the envoys to Scogan and Bukton and the "Complaint to His Purse."

1398           Chaucer is granted a tun of wine a year.

1399           Richard II is deposed; Henry IV becomes king.

1399           Chaucer leases a tenement, for 53 years, in the garden of the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey.

1399           King Henry IV confirms, and adds to, Chaucer's royal annuities.

1400           "The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse."

1400           Chaucer's death (on 25 October, according to tradition).